Make / Change: 2022 US Diversity Progress Report

In June 2020, racial justice protests across the country sparked by the police murder of George Floyd caused a reckoning within our own industry, which has a history of systemic racism and decades of inaction.

Shortly after a group of 600 Black ad professionals signed “A Call for Change” letter to agency leaders demanding more meaningful action, we published our first quarterly Make / Change report documenting the makeup of our US workforce.

It remains our goal that with continued transparency, increased accountability, and continual evolution, we’ll be able to address existing barriers, report on significant progress and continue to strive towards achieving a more equitable and inclusive workplace.

Two years on, we’re able to report areas where we’ve made progress. We’re proud that our efforts thus far have been recognized with an honor from AdvancingDiversity.org, and that they’ve influenced practices at other agencies. At the same time, we’re continuing to find ways to expand and improve our efforts.

We’re increasing representation over the long-term with a strategy focused on our sourcing and hiring practices. Our sourcing strategy includes creating greater access to emerging talent by partnering with the 4A’s, American Advertising Federation, and the T. Howard Foundation. We’ve added new partnerships with the Boyd Initiative, Out in Tech and #hireblac. We’ve also increased our outreach with HBCUs and other institutions serving historically excluded groups to amplify the hiring of talent from backgrounds which have been systematically excluded from this industry. Additionally, we’ve expanded training for recruiters, hiring managers, and interviewers, with the goal of creating an equitable and unbiased interview process.

While increasing representation is important, it’s only part of the work, and we’re focused on improving our culture of inclusion and belonging. We grew to six business resource groups (Culture Collectives) and continue to conduct our annual pay equity review. In the last year we held over 20 learning workshops on cultural intelligence, inclusive leadership, and allyship. Further, we launched a program by The Corporate Alleycat, which partners with organizations to accelerate success for junior and mid-level talent from historically excluded backgrounds.

We are also excited to share the appointment of Dr. Anita Jack-Davies as our Management Consultant: Culture and Operations. Anita will be responsible for driving all of the vital equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives already underway and will engage a broad set of stakeholders — global company leaders, cross-network teams, Culture Collectives, R/GA’s Black Leadership Coalition and the Creative Diversity Council — to further drive sustained, systemic change, both for our people and our clients.

Who We Were Then, And Who We Are Now

Key Takeaways:

Our employee database system currently only allows for male/female, but we are enhancing it to allow for additional gender identities.

  • Since we began reporting diversity metrics in Q2, 2020, the proportion of female employees has consistently increased.
  • In May of 2020, 52% of US employees were female, and in August 2022 55.8% of employees were female.
  • This has been a sustained trend over the past two years.

Note: Scale of the y-axis does not start at 0 for the purpose of more clearly showing the trend

Junior-level composition by sex

Key takeaways:

  • Since our initial reporting two years ago, R/GA has closed the gap in terms of female representation in senior and executive positions.
  • In May 2020, males comprised 53% of executive and senior positions. Executive and senior positions are now split equally 50/50 between male and female employees.
  • Further, as the overall proportion of employees has become more female, mid-level and junior positions have increased in female representation.

Key Takeaways

  • When we began reporting diversity metrics in Q2 2020, R/GA recognized we had a significant amount of work to do to make the company more diverse.
  • At the time, just 36% of the US workforce identified as people of color, with 64% identifying as white only.
  • In August 2022, the most recent month of reporting, 40.7% of all employees were people of color, and now less than 60% (59.3%) are white only.
  • This trend began in Q2 2021, and we have sustained this progress in the past year.
  • Within the POC cohort, gains in representation from Q2 2020 to August 2022 have been made among the following:
  • Latine employee representation increased from (9.8% in Q2 2020 to 10.9% in August 2022).
  • Black employee representation increased (6.6% to 10.7%).
  • The representation of 2 or more races increased from (5.2% to 7%).
  • However, the company has seen a decrease in the proportion of Asian employees in that time (14.5% to 11.8%).

Key Takeaways:

  • Progress in making R/GA more representative and diverse has not been equally distributed across levels.
  • In the executive ranks, POC accounted for 18.2% in May 2020, increasing to 23.4% in August 2022.
  • In Q1 of 2022, R/GA saw the highest number of POC in executive positions, breaking the 30% threshold.
  • The proportion of POC within senior positions has held more stable, fluctuating within a narrow range of 26% to 30% within the past two years.
  • R/GA has seen significant gains in POC holding mid-level and junior positions; 50% of mid-level positions and 64% of junior positions are now held by POC.

How We Feel

This year, we developed an Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI) metric to understand people’s experience at R/GA as it relates to feelings of belonging. We call it our Inclusion Index, focused on creating an environment where historically excluded talent endeavor to join, stay, and grow at R/GA. We define inclusion as the level of belonging, fair treatment, integration of differences, psychological safety and trust a person feels for the place they work.

To this end, our Inclusion Index includes questions around psychological safety, fairness in job evaluation, trust and open communication, whether employees feel that their opinions are valued when they speak up, and whether a wide range of perspectives are included in decision making processes at R/GA. To this end, our Inclusion Index, measured by key engagement survey questions, is calculated as a straight average of all attributes listed below:

Inclusion Index

Our engagement survey is fielded 1X per year; we will only be able to include data on the Inclusion Index once per year.

Belonging

  • I feel like I belong at R/GA.
  • I can be my authentic self at work.

Psychological Safety

  • When I speak up, my opinion is valued.

Integrating Differences

  • Perspectives like mine are included in the decision making at R/GA.

Fair Treatment

  • My job performance is evaluated fairly.

Trust

  • At R/GA there is open and honest two-way communication.

We have seen significant increases in all of our measures, especially around belonging, psychological safety and trust in our annual engagement survey since launching our Make/Change strategy. With regards to fair treatment, the majority of R/GA employees believe their performance is evaluated fairly, and significantly more believe all employees have equal opportunities to advance in their careers here.

The majority of respondents feel they belong at R/GA and there is psychological safety when they speak up. We still need to improve in integrating differences, which we attribute to our continuing efforts to diversify our leadership.

Note: US Engagement Survey; 2019: 7/22/19–8/12/19; 2021: 6/2/21–6/18/21; 2022: 6/14/22–7/8/22

Key Takeaways:

  • R/GA has seen positive progress in the three year trend for the inclusion index survey metric.
  • Representation now stands at an all time high of 77% for men and 76% for women at R/GA.
  • For the 2022 employee engagement survey, we included a mechanism to enable employees to identify as non-binary, gender fluid, or gender queer.

For our latest annual Engagement Survey — in which employees voluntarily self-identfy about aspects of their identity and feelings about the workplace — we expanded our demographic data to include more dimensions of identity, such as gender identity, more detailed race and ethnicity selections, identification as part of the LGBTQIA+ community, sexual orientation, caregiver status, and disability.

We also recognize that there are more aspects to equity, diversity, and inclusion than race and definitions of gender. While there are some legal limitations around acquiring an accurate view of such aspects of inclusion, we have sought ways to gain some understanding of them.

Key Takeaways:

  • Similar to the trend among males and females, the Inclusion Index is at an all-time high among all racial/ethnic groups.
  • It is worth pointing out, however, that white employees have the highest inclusion score, indicating that we still have work when it comes to feelings of belonging among Black, Asian, Middle-Eastern, and Latine employees.

What’s Changing

Moving forward, we will be sharing our data biannually and tell a broader/more complete story of how we’re doing in our efforts to be a more equitable workplace.

Key Takeaways:

  • In August 2022, females accounted for 55.8% of all US employees.
  • In looking at year-to-date hires, females accounted for 61% of all new employees who joined the company.
  • Similarly, females accounted for 60% of all promotions year-to-date.

Key Takeaways:

  • In August 2022, POC accounted for 40.7% of R/GA’s US workforce.
  • POC accounted for a higher proportion of new hires in 2022; 44.1% of all new hires were POC.
  • And POC accounted for 41.4% of all promotions this year.

In conclusion, we remain steadfast in our commitment to creating real, sustainable change in the industry. Our next data release will be in Q1 2023 where we’ll reflect on 2022 and share strategic priorities for 2023.

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R/GA is a global innovation company. We design businesses and brands for a more human future.